Nurse Sylvia gave me the gun but Mark got it operational. It took us several hours of painstaking disassembly and reassembly. Finally we did what all men never do. We read the instructions. Shazammm! A working jetgun. The more we played with it, the more we discovered the thing could never be made sanitary under even the best circumstances. When used in the context of 600 or more souls an hour as advertised, it becomes even more ludicrous to think it could ever have been sanitary with that philosophy. Someone in a position of power had to have ignored common sense to authorize the use of this device.
Dragging this baby in for a Travel Board hearing or even a video conference at the Regional Office would be the cat’s pajamas. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So we took a few. The first is one I’d like all of you to take a gander at. The portal to insert the vial has to have an air equalizer system or a vacuum would soon develop inside it from repeated doses. This explains why you see most medical personnel insert a syringe needle into a vaccine vial and squirt air into it to “equalize” what they are preparing to take out. If they didn’t, a dangerous imbalance would eventually exist and the rubber diaphragm would begin to suck in outside air. Imagine this jetgun “air equalizer” sucking in uncontrolled air in an unsterile medical environment 600 times (or more) an hour. The possibility of any airborne virus being “inhaled ” by the portal is exponential. This, in turn would pollute the whole vial of vaccine.
The foot pedal to operate these puppies is mounted inside the storage/travel case in the lower right quadrant-permanently. If you step in dog poo on the way to work in the morning, it will adhere to your shoe. If you pump the gun up with your shoe for every shot, you have now contaminated the case with excrement 600 (or more) times per hour. Imagine getting blood on the shoe as well. It is captive inside the case… along with the unprotected jetgun. Remember, there is no “cover” for the needle that inserts into the vaccine vial. When closed, the jetgun et al is mere inches away from the foot pedal. In addition, if carried by the handle, the foot pedal is now above the jetgun and the potential for poo/blood to fall/drip on the unprotected vial needle is incalculable. Considering a drop of blood with HCV in it can exist up to three (3) months at room temperature and you have a problem saying it’s “plausible”.
If the victim you are blasting with the jetgun flinches and jerks, the gun tip will fillet the skin and be contaminated with his/her blood. All the alcohol swabs in the world will not restore the sterility to the tip. It has to be disassembled and autoclaved at 249° (F.) for 15 to 20 minutes . Somehow, I disremember them doing that at Lackland AFB when I went through the line three times in succeeding weeks.
Mark and I had the devil’s own time figuring out what was wrong with the gun. Try 40 years of inaction. The reservoir for hydraulic fluid was empty in the foot pedal. The o-rings were drier than the NASA Challenger’s. and the nose orifice was plugged-probably with 40 year old blood.
Well, there you have the particulars. I suspect it is much more than plausible that the jetgun was capable of cross-contamination by any of the above even if no one had flinched and bled. The pathways for transmitting HCV from one to the next via this device are so blatant and obvious, we have to wonder why it took the CDC until 1997 to blow an ass gasket and finally suggest it was an ill-conceived medical brain fart.
Thank your lucky stars Nurse Sylvia rescued these three we have because I suspect VA will be out buying up any more they can find on the open market and misplacing them in the Potomac late at night. This bodes well for HCV claims presentations. Merely being able to see and handle one will put paid to the 2004 FAST letter’s myth that it was a shaky, plausible, far-fetched concoction of ‘what-if’s like the perfect storm. Nothing about this device screams sterile. Quite the opposite.
Next week, we get the hot dogs and FD&C #2 red food coloring. This will be interesting.